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At Napa’s Vista Collina resort, kids express Valentine’s Day sentiment with cookies

At Napa’s Vista Collina resort, kids express Valentine’s Day sentiment with cookies


Since opening less than two years ago, owners of the Vista Collina Resort have worked to shape it into a new Napa Valley destination for food lovers – and, for one day, a place for young children to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit with sprinkles and frosting.

A demonstration kitchen usually given over to culinary classes was filled by more than two dozen boys and girls, seated with their parents around tables decked with plates of heart-shaped butter cookies. Beside the plates were tubes of red and yellow frosting and jars of candy hearts, rainbow-hued sprinkles and M&Ms – the makings of friendship tokens as sweet in taste as in sentiment.

On this Sunday afternoon, the class leader, chef Mackenzie Rupp, would have no roast to pull from the oven, no vegetables to chop, only friendly advice to dispense to the youngsters in her audience.

“Here’s one thing about sprinkles,” she explained, pointing to a rolling pin, heart-shaped dough cutter and jars of toppings. “They look really really pretty, but sometimes they don’t taste as good as they look.” Then, with a wink, she qualified her statement: “M&M’s though, they taste good in all capacities.”

Sunday’s cookie-topping class showed a more playful side to the Food and Wine Center, a part of Vista Collina since the resort opened in 2018 off Highway 221. The center has built a slate of food and wine events that covered 95 dates last year, but organizers also are keeping an eye out for local children by staging at least one children’s event a month, according to Cindy Welborn, the resort’s special-events manager.

The arrival of spring will bring to Vista Collina more family-oriented weekend entertainment, according to Welborn, including a new Easter egg hunt that will join a list of local egg hunts hosted by CIA at Copia and the ParentsCAN nonprofit group.

Having a kid-friendly weekend diversion – particularly one that brought so many families together – in an otherwise wine-dominated community was especially valuable to Amanda Irizarry, the wife of a service member at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

“What do people do with kids around here?” she asked lightheartedly as she prepared to leave with her 3-year-old daughter Kennedy. “We’re military so we’re used to sharing holidays with everyone, so we enjoy it.”

Earlier, during an hour of cookie decoration, some children took Rupp’s advice about restraint to heart more than others.

Some of the baked valentines emerged with messages like “BE MINE” and “Love” neatly traced in cursive icing, or bordered with candies as carefully as a framed picture. And then there were treats like the one belonging to 2-year-old Lexi Anselmo, who eagerly licked a pile of sprinkles piled on her cookie like a color-speckled hill.

“They can’t get enough of it!” her mother, Francine Anselmo of Vacaville, said with a laugh while other children bit into their cookies or boxed them to take home.

You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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